Phase 2 Our Italian Renovation begins

This summer, I took a mini break for our renovation. Now it's time to rev it up again for phase 2 of our Italian renovation.

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This summer, I took a mini break from our Italian renovation. Now it’s time to rev it up again for phase 2. Sometimes I think it’s a good idea to take some time and think. I know for me that better solutions emerge and more functional ideas come to light. In this case, time has really solidified the functionality of the guest rooms and the commercial kitchen area.

Here are some ideas that showed-up for me. The walls in the commercial kitchen will remain deconstructed concrete and stone. The ceilings are already inlaid with wood and are beautiful. We will have white washed walls and industrial lighting. Of course, our giant stunningly beautiful black Lacanche will be included in the floor plan with plenty of room for prepping and demoing. Side note: I can’t wait to start teaching in our new kitchen.

We will have a student lounge that will double as another guest room. There will be a full pantry and a terrace overlooking the mountain views and the vineyard. We will have a large terrace with a shady pergola for enjoying the mid-day sun. It will overlook the kitchen garden.

Stay tuned for more updates as we start this very important part of our Italian renovation project.

I think the next phase of this project is going to be fun. xx

 

 

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My Life in Photos, September

It’s hard to believe that earlier this week, I wrapped-up an incredible summer in Italy. My first at La Fortezza, it was unforgettable in so many ways.

September was nearly as busy as the rest of the summer, but I found a little more time for relaxing with friends and visitors while exploring the region on my own or with Frank. I arrived back in the States on Monday and have been recovering from jet lag which is a very very real thing.

In the spirit of reminiscing, I wanted to look back at my photos throughout September. For those of you who follow along, this will be a trip through September’s memory lane. For those of you who don’t, enjoy these photos from my last summer month in Italy.

We’ve got some exciting things up our sleeves for October…including opening next summer’s workshops. Join my mailing list to get first dibs. In the meantime, a few inspirational photos to get you in the mood to come along.

Just another magic Monday.

Just another magic Monday.

Gorgeous birthday bouquet thanks to my rose garden and Forrest Spears for the sunflowers.

Gorgeous birthday bouquet thanks to my rose garden and Forrest Spears for the sunflowers.

Today was a good day! This is the first harvest since we've owned the house. I'm so excited!

Today was a good day! This is the first harvest since we’ve owned the house. I’m so excited!

Next to last weekend here. Fall is definitely making an appearance, too. What an incredible indescribable summer it has been!

Next to last weekend here. Fall is definitely making an appearance, too. What an incredible indescribable summer it has been!

Did I mention that I'm having a love affair with bistecca? Full disclosure: we always have it for our farewell dinner for our workshops...well because I love it, and it's Tuscany after all...and of course it goes great with our red wine!

Did I mention that I’m having a love affair with bistecca? Full disclosure: we always have it for our farewell dinner for our workshops…well because I love it, and it’s Tuscany after all…and of course it goes great with our red wine!

Parma is pretty! I've spent so much time in Parma this year! It's my new city in our new location. As I count down to summer's end, I will be reminiscing about the summer here...

Parma is pretty! I’ve spent so much time in Parma this year! It’s my new city in our new location. As I count down to summer’s end, I will be reminiscing about the summer here…

Afternoon light...I'm really going to miss this place.

Afternoon light…I’m really going to miss this place.

 

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Italy Summer Style + Photo Workshops Recap

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dinner on the terrace was incredible

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signature cocktails were a must at aperitivo time

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this was our wine and cheese party…

Well it’s fall. Summer went by so quickly. Our first ever summer Style + Photo Workshops here at La Fortezza were a big success and lots of fun. We met so many wonderful people, and we cooked, we ate, we drank wine, we created beauty, we talked style and photography, and of course, we prop shopped until we dropped.

I want to thank the great instructors who joined us, Christina Wedge, Sarah Dorio, and Sif Orellana; they did an amazing job, and our attendees enjoyed every minute.

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la fortezza worked well as a location

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the studio worked as well as I imagined and more…

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a one on one styling lesson with moi…

My intention with these workshops is to mentor and share my vast professional experience and expertise in styling and producing photo-shoots and bring the very best of the best experts to teach with me.

This summer was a learning experience, not only for our attendees but for me, too. Working at this new location, I wanted to make sure that everyone experienced the very best. My mantra here at the La Fortezza workshops is that everyone should be inspired, challenged, pampered and gently nudged to a new creative heights. We will all nurture the goals every student has set out to accomplish in a beautiful setting.

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we made and photographed handmade ravioli, and then ate them…

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prop shopping at my favorite flea market was a great day excursion with these ladies

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getting to know equipment is essential…

This summer my experience with our attendees and instructors had me thinking about every detail. We tried chefs, and we tried menus. We worked with new equipment on site. We honed our team and added new team members. With everything new, there are growing pains, and I so appreciated the insights and suggestions from everyone involved. Know that I have dissected every moment of each workshop to better improve it for our attendees.The studio space worked amazingly well, as well as I had imagined; it is truly a magical space to work in.

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Always smiling and so kind…Elena did an amazing job at our first workshop, and we will have her back next summer.

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Leo, our badass chef and part time hand model knocked, it out of the park with his new twist on Italian cuisine and handmade pasta!

What I came away with is a greater knowledge of expectations not only of our attendees but of myself. Thank you to all who participated and who helped me gain an understanding of what it means to operate such a life changing business model.  All of you were so gracious and thoughtful and patient with us. Our chefs and our support team now have a better understanding of the importance of creating a safe and welcoming environment. But mostly in the end, it’s the great people that I get to spend time with that make these workshops most worthwhile. This first time with all our attendees was so incredible. I loved teaching you and spending time with you and getting to know you. Please come back anytime.

I can’t wait until next year. I have created a roster of incredible workshops. We will have the most amazing creatives joining us next year. We will work with an internationally known wedding design and photography team, a figurative fine-art photographer, an abstract painter, and an Italian fine art photographer. Perhaps the most exciting addition is that I will be offering 2 one on one styling workshops with me! One in spring and one in the fall. Stay tuned for more Workshop updates soon.

Thank you again to all who attended our first ever La Fortezza Workshops, and to our fantastic team of pros.

Love you guys!

xx

Photos: the summer team

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Italy renovation update

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This will be the guest quarters, under the bridge.

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the commerical kitchen and guest lounge ( bat cave) will be below the terrace. Photos by Sarah Dorio

As you all know by now, we worked at our new workshop location in Italy all summer long, La Fortezza. Some of our attendees witnessed the renovation first hand, and those brave soles that signed up for our first ever Style + Photo Workshop got an eye full of what it looks like to do a large renovation project in Italy. We had scaffolding up as we were in the midst of reappointing the dependance which will serve as 3 bedrooms and baths in this beautiful outbuilding on the side of the main house. It will have a beautiful terrace, be near the outdoor oven and have a super view of the vineyard. The scaffolding came down right before our second workshop. At that time we halted all works for the summer and took a well deserved break from hammers, drills and heavy equipment.

After a quiet summer, we are ready to resume all the noise and changes to the property. Here’s a renovation update and what is on the to-do list for this coming winter:

  1. Finish the outbuilding guest rooms and bath rooms.
  2. Finish the guest quarters in the main building.
  3. Finish the outdoor oven and grill area with seating area.
  4. Finish the commercial demo kitchen
  5. Finish the student lounge area which our son Levi named the bat cave (we may or may not have a bat family living there now; don’t worry we plan to erect a proper bat home for them on the property).
  6. Expand the garden – this includes planting an olive grove. Frank is keen on having our own olive oil.
  7. Large stone wall for the front of the house for privacy.

After the holidays in December, work will commence once more. At this point, we are in the planning and design and budgeting stages with our Italian team. Stay tuned for regular updates. Of course, follow along on my Instagram account.

We are super excited to continue work on this amazing project. Stay tuned…xx

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Sarzana Antique Fair

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Every year in August I wait for it…in Sarzana there’s the most wonderful event, the Sarzana Antiques Fair. Sarzana is about a 40 minute drive from our house in the Lunigiana. Sarazana is a quaint medieval town 20 minutes inland from the sea, right before you get to Cararra where the marble is from. Complete with a citadel and duomo, it’s our region’s fun little secret hipster haven. It’s also virtually unknown by tourists. In fact I cringe a little bit letting you all in on my secret happy place. It’s chocked-full of artisan clothing boutiques and antique stores, yummy hip restaurants, and the most charming little bakery/tearoom, Melissa’s (Ill be writing about it in the next blog post, so you will want to come back, and read about it this Thursday). There’s even a hipster barber shop.

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This year I went twice. Once to scout it out. I found a charming hand painted terracotta urn that I have proudly displayed in our front entry. I headed back to find some pieces for the guest quarters and kitchen, and a trunk for the master bedroom.

The stalls under the brightly lit passageways always make me smile. Striped umbrellas and trillions of trinkets catch your eye. It always makes me a little dizzy with anticipation. Oh, and it’s held at night which is a stroke of genius since the August heat can bring upwards of 100 degrees in the shade. It’s the perfect time to have an aperitivo and people watching at the fair is an added plus.

All summer long there are wonderful antiques markets all around the region, but this once-a-year fair is the one I wait for. Now that I have let you in on my little secret, you should think about visiting our region inland from the Riviera. Thirty minutes from the very popular and incredibly over-crowed over-marketed Cinqueterra, there is a treasure trove of quaint towns and beautiful views, amazing hikes and unexpected local cuisine. Adventure awaits you off the beaten path. Start with Sarzana; you won’t be disappointed. You’re welcome. xx

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